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Research and innovation
Policy experimentation in research and innovation

A new initiative to embed policy experimentation into EU policymaking and engaging citizens with the EU missions

How the project works

Policy Experimentation is a new project launched by the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation in order to provide key results to further inform and embed policy experimentation into EU research and innovation policy-making. Lessons from it will be instrumental to guide and inform the inclusion of more experimentation actions funded by the framework programme currently and in the future.

To promote the use of policy experimentation in research and innovation policy, the project will follow a multifaceted approach

  • Promotion of experimentation across Europe by raising awareness and building capacity through information campaigns and a training module for EU Commission policy officers, EU countries and other stakeholders.

A consortium led by Nesta together with the Barcelona School of Economics (BSE) will carry out the project activities. The project will be led by two of their centres, the Innovation Growth Lab (IGL), at Nesta and BSE, and the Centre for Collective Intelligence Design (CCID) at Nesta.

What is policy experimentation?

The experimental approach allows testing new policies on a small scale, measuring the impact and learning what works best, to then scale up the most successful solutions.

Through policy experimentation, policymakers are able to test new ideas while building credible evidence of what works, what does not work and why.

Experiments are intentionally set up to learn, so they have a clearly structured learning strategy, defined ex-ante rather than as an after-thought, and can be used to address different types of questions using randomised controlled trials.

This approach has not been widely applied in research and innovation policy, hindering efforts to further improve Europe’s research and innovation performance.

To be more impactful, these policy actions would benefit from a wider deployment of policy experimentation across EU research and innovation policy and via the actions and instruments funded through it.

This project is set out to invert the trend and ensure that research and innovation policy across the EU is guided by rigorous evidence.

Citizen engagement and the EU Missions

Citizen engagement is a crucial component of the EU Missions since it brings people together around shared objectives and allows them to influence policy.

While many citizen engagement actions have been and are currently implemented under each EU Mission, little is known about how to effectively promote, increase and catalyse citizens’ engagement and participation.

Adopting an experimental approach can help shed light on the effectiveness of alternative citizen engagement actions.

The project will provide practical application of policy experimentation methods to shed light on how to best ensure citizen engagement in EU Missions, by

  • Conducting a survey to elicit citizens’ preferences concerning how to be engaged in the implementation of the EU Missions’ objectives.
  • Setting up policy experiments to test promising interventions to increase citizens’ engagement in EU Missions.